Strong female character

So to recap

- Nat has been stripped from her status as a strong female character because she, a human, has feelings for another human.

- The Twins are no longer important or victims of atrocious acts of war because their heritage was changed to fit to the time period in question, copyright laws, and constructs of a cinematic story arc as it pertains to Stark weaponry as well as to serve for a REASON for their hatred and hostility.

- Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Dollhouse, is now a racist and a misogynist. This is due to the points listed previously.

OTHER NOTABLE HAPPENINGS:

- Tumblrminded folk continue to destroy everything they touch and be proud of themselves whilst doing it.

- We head towards a grave over-correction in our culture. Because….

- Intelligence is being sacrificed while, simultaneously, information is abounding. People have great access to a wealth of information, yet few practice the discipline of researching the sources, seeking objective truths, thinking for themselves or considering all the aspects.

In short, knowledge is a weapon. And without conscience discernment, responsibility, and reasoning it is a damn dangerous one.

What happened to Joss Whedon yesterday, and why it’s a super bad thing for everyone.

Spoilers for Age of Ultron and such.

On the one hand:

I thoroughly enjoyed The Avengers: Age of Ultron, having seen it only once so far. In particular, I liked the character developments they gave to Hawkeye, The Hulk, and Black Widow, and though the film was tonally very different from the first film, that was not nearly as bad a thing as I thought it would be. Sure, there was an absence of Whedon-ish dialogue with rare exceptions (”Well… I was born yesterday”), but Whedon-ish dialogue doesn’t belong everywhere, and this film was probably a good example of where not to put it.
And the female characters were not only well-written, they were varied. It would have been cheap and easy to make all the major female characters some variation on Black Widow, but they weren’t. For example, Laura’s character was so normal under the circumstances (welcome 5 extra superheroes into her house like it’s no big deal, put them up for the night, smuggle Nick Fury into her shed for a pep talk, send everyone off with well-wishes the next morning) that it almost seems miraculous.

And I found nothing wrong with the aspects of Black Widow’s character which leaned towards what you might call traditional femininity, i.e. motherhood.

I don’t believe Joss Whedon deserved any of the hate that he got because I genuinely don’t believe there was anything to complain about in this instance, whether you generally like Joss Whedon or not.

On the other hand:

I don’t want this to sound like victim-blaming, but it probably will anyway, so here goes.

This was always going to happen. Today, next month, next year, some time in the future, the rabid feminists of Twitter were going to turn on Joss Whedon.
And I’m not saying that he should necessarily have foreseen it, but he most definitely backed the wrong horse. That is, he backed the horse which only cared about his support because he was, knowingly or otherwise, regurgitating rhetoric that the mob had already heard and evaluated to be absolute truth.
The moment that Joss Whedon did something to challenge that rhetoric (however unknowingly and unintentionally), that is, giving Black Widow a motherhood angle and a love interest in the form of Banner, the people turned on him.

And the really scary thing is, they turned on him as though they had always meant to do it. Reading through the wild mud-slinging being spouted by all these random Twitter people, it becomes clear that they never actually liked him. There is no conflict. There is no “Ooh, I want to like Whedon, but this is beyond the pale”. There’s no “Gosh, Whedon’s usually so good at this sort of thing, what happened?” There’s just “Aha! Whedon’s a misogynist, racist, transphobe! I knew it! I always knew it!”

There is no substitute for a network of friends, or a group of fans, that you know you can trust. And I doubt Whedon can trust either of his to do right by him.

What does this mean?

If this controversy blows up hard enough, it may actually have a marked negative effect on female characters in cinema.

Black Widow was a well-rounded, well-written, entertaining female character.

For the crime of writing her as such, Joss Whedon was harassed to the extent that he deleted his Twitter account.

This is what I call the Wonder Woman paradox in action: The reason that she may never get a movie is because nobody wants to write the script.

The people who demand the existence of a Wonder Woman movie have also, inadvertently, set the bar way too high. I was telling judging-arguments-by-their-merit many months ago, any slight deviations in Wonder Woman’s character or writing that the louder sections of her audience don’t like are going to be lambasted, and held up as proof that Hollywood can’t write a good woman, or they just don’t care, or whatever fits their preordained narrative. Ironically, for all that they want a Wonder Woman movie, they will end up hating her character. And nobody wants to write that script, because if they screw up (and they will screw up) they will never hear the end of it.

How right I turned out to be. But it wasn’t Wonder Woman, it was Black Widow. Which is almost as bad.

See, if this does blow up hard enough, then scriptwriters in Hollywood might actually start shying away from writing decent female characters, or any female characters at all. “Oh no” they might say, “That’s far too big a risk. Remember what happened to Joss Whedon? We thought he was good at writing female characters, but even Black Widow wasn’t good enough for the audience.”

Yes, I am saying that the people who are pushing for better representation for female characters in cinema, are in fact making it harder to have better representation for female characters in cinema.

Another glorious victory for social justice.

2

As Roxane Gay even more directly asked, “Can someone explain the Joss Whedon thing? Did he experience what it’s like being a woman online and leave?” The ugly abuse that Whedon experienced is real. But the intrinsic dysfunction of Twitter did not just become real because a well-liked man who is beloved for creating strong female characters experienced it. As far as I’m concerned, the day’s not complete unless I have to block and report somebody. And guess what, it’s often a man and it often involves putting me down for my sex. That’s the world in which a vast number of us experience for the crime of tweeting while female.

The Internet, ever helpful, has stepped in to speculate on why the director has stepped away from social media

  • Fan Fic Writers:*ships badass female character with every character possible in the universe* Well she's a strong individual. She deserves love. I can write her with whoever I choose--it's my fanfic.
  • Other Fans:*ships badass female character with every character possible in the universe* Well she's a strong individual. She deserves love. She's my favourite character. I can ship her with whoever I please.
  • Writers of TV Show/Movie:*Has the badass female character show interest in different people and then fall for one character making a canon ship* Well she flirts. Like most people do. Even strong badass female character deserve love.
  • Fans:!!!!!!! *Outrage that a show/movie would put some humanity in a strong badass female character.*
  • Writers of TV Show/Movie:*. . . *

Tumblr: oh my god we’re so tired of female characters who just punch and kick things all the times, guess what, being a badass doesn’t make you a strong female character

AoU: ok se here we got Black Widow who finally get a more developed character insight. now she’s forced to revive her terrible past, and she’s strong enough to overcome her traumas and become a key role for the group by telling them not only ultron’s secret base location, but also by saving the Vision, trusting her companions, and spending all of herself for the group, being the only one with no superpowers or special suit. 

and oh she’s the only one who can calm the Hulk which is a fearsome force of destruction by simply speaking at him. and also: amazing action scenes and-

Tumblr: OH MY GOD WHY SHE DOESN’T PUNCH THINGS ALL THE TIME, the character is bad, the movie is bad and Whedon should die for it.

Skip this if you haven't seen Age of Ultron

Hey tumblr, putting a strong female character in a relationship DOESN’T MAKE THE CHARACTER ANY LESS STRONG. It’s character development, the fact that Natasha can put behind her past ideas of “love is for children” to pursue Banner because she saw some of herself in him. He thinks of himself as a monster, and because of her past as an assassin she thinks of herself as a monster, and so she tried to breach that gap because she saw the both of them as kindred spirits. This was an aspect of the film that I thought Whedon handled very well.
If you don’t like that subplot, fine, to each his own, but if you’re one of the people that bullied Whedon off of twitter and sent him hate mail over what he considered to be a very meaningful and personal project that he poured his heart and soul into, then you should be ashamed of yourself.

You know what Marvel should have done? They should have let Natasha be a strong female character without throwing in a damn romance we didn’t even want. If they didn’t want to give us Clintasha they should have just let her keep holding her own as she was, without resorting to a dagblasted love story. That’s what makes me the most angry about this film. Natasha was doing just fine as a compelling character when she was a single lady assassin in the last three films. If they gave us some Clintasha and kept her character none of us would have minded. But instead they re- wrote her character and threw her after Banner.

Joss Whedon, what happened to you….

Buffy the Vampire Slayer…. Buffy was strong and independent, she was hurt by love and scorned but still managed to kick ass because she was strong, and she showed a generation of women that you can be feminine, and still kick ass, and be respected by your male peers. and don’t even get me started on Willow Rosenberg. 

now we have Age of Ultron, which gave exposition to Black Widow, which was lovely. but something changed in Natasha, a woman who claimed love was for children and wrote off any emotional attachments for the sake of her job, not exactly the best mindset for people to adhere to, but whatever. this austere assassin became more willing to wear her heart on her sleeve in AoU. this may be due to her exposure to a more constant team, with less espionage and more support and teamwork. i cannot say, that is off screen. for the sake of this little word vomit i won’t compare to comic book canon, Joss Whedon rarely does, so why should I. 

the problem now is that Black Widow was willing to leave her job and be with the one she loves. before these events she was willing to do the job and never have anyone that close. do you see the problem here? am I making sense?

she could have very easily been both strong and resourceful and loving and happy.

the problem is that a strong woman can’t be a loving woman, right Joss?

take a leaf out of literally any other Marvel program, that you weren’t writing. Agent Carter, Jane Foster, Gwen Stacy, Pepper Potts, and literally hundreds of other female characters have been shown as being both supportive and loving and still strong as hell and still capable without their respective men to hold their hand. 

writing strong characters, easy.
writing strong women, easy
writing loving women who do anything for love, too easy. too overdone

writing strong, independent, multifaceted women who can both support, and be strong as hell?… apparently beyond the realms of possibility.

also, sorry. but using Pepper and Jane as just a tool for Tony and Thor to boast? not gonna lie, would have been better to not mention them at all. Tony using Pepper as bragging rights? using her like a trophy? you’re killian me.

I personaly don’t unerstand the hate people are giving Joss Whedon. I as a girl don’t think he’s being sexist. He made Natasha into a poweful and strong character that can seriously kick ass. Just beacuse she loves Bruce doesn’t make her weak! There’s a weird thing I hear a lot on tumblr and that’s : “If a girl loves someone that means she is helpless, weak and needs to be saved by men!” wich is sexist. And while we’re on the topic of Nat and Bruce, isn’t he the one that constantly needs help from Natasha to calm down? And about the costume, she is clearly covered (and if you’re saying that you can stil see her body shape, you can say the same thing about Pietro and his vaccume tight shirt or that Thor sets really high standards for guys). I want equality in films and I think Joss is just helping to reach it by creating strong female characters that inspire young girls around the world to be powerful because they can be.

not sure how much of the difference between my reaction to Natasha in AOU and everyone else’s is me reading more into the text that is actually there, and how much is people being upset that their Strong Empowered Female Character turned out to be ~weak~ and have ~flaws~

SJWs turn on Whedon

For the past few years, Joss Whedon has built up a reputation as an SJW White Knight and Superstar Feminist Ally. He’s well known, especially on tumblr and in more liberal-focused nerdy circles, where he was constantly praised for his strong female characters.

Personally, I think Joss is pretty okay when it comes to creating entertaining shows and movies. However, he tends to rely too heavily on snappy quips and snarky dialog and he’s been writing the same emotionally distant, yet secretly vulnerable hyper competent heroine for decades now.

So, what was Joss’s crime? Not making Black Widow the absolute and uncontested star of the new Avengers movie.

For some fucking reason, when feminists and SJWs decided that they had a vested interest in nerdy domains, they clung to Black Widow as their shining beacon of power, a character who has existed long before feminist outrage was aimed at comics, and whose fictional history is nothing to idolized. Of course, to know that, you’d need to read the many comics she’s appeared in, or at least read her wikipedia entry. She is not a role model unless you’re a backstabbing sociopath with trust issues and heaps of paranoia.. Oh wait. Right. SJWs and Feminists.

So, after Black Widow’s role in Age of Ultron wasn’t satisfactory enough, the hatemob that is modern social justice and third-wave feminism and says it fights against hate and intolerance decided they no would no longer tolerate Whedon’s inadequacies as an ally and mouthpiece.

In rather speedy fashion, they dogpiled Whedon on twitter, dialed up the harassment and bullying as high as it would go, accused him of being racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic, and generally being guilty of all the things they just plain don’t like. How a few of those got in there, I’m not really sure, but I guess SJWs just started throwing anything and everything at him in the heat of the moment, and they stuck.

Whedon deleted his twitter not too long ago due to this hateblitz and right now, the parts of the internet that missed the action are all confused as fuck, because they thought that Whedon was one of the good guys, like themselves, and that the outrage brigade would never turn on one of their own…

MovieBob thinks this might be some false flag by “channers” [One, Two, Three]

Patton Oswalt is blaming the liberal version of the Tea Party, like it’s just some small fringe group that every sensible liberal already hates [link]

The Mary Sue is pretending this was just some mysterious happening that no one understands. [link]

Now, I started writing this post a few days ago when I noticed tumblr getting its collective panties in a bunch over some nitpicky elements in Age of Ultron, and even I didn’t think it would escalate this far. Not that I didn’t see this coming, because this always happens, just that I didn’t think it would happen overnight like this. 

White Knights like Whedon, who align themselves with SJWs always end up like this. He spent years thinking he was championing the fight for women and doing real good in movies, TV, and comics. He picked fights with people whom he was told were evil misogynists and must be destroyed for the good of the Fempire. He spent his days snarking out tweets condemning GamerGate and misogyny and it turns out that just wasn’t enough to earn him enough good will to get a pass from the people that he thought were his true fans.

There’s a certain tragedy to it, because the people tend to align themselves with SJWs and Feminists because they think they are siding with people more sensitive and empathetic to the suffering of others. Good people who have stood up in the face of outrageous injustice and cruelty and decided to fight when no one else would. People who really care about actual human issues and the suffering that can come with marginalization or oppression… And then it turns out they are a bunch of psychotic, self-righteous bullies who use social justice and feminism as justification for their horrendous behavior and as an excuse for their rotten personalities. 

Inevitably, these truly terrible human beings turn on each other and once they burn a bridge, that shit stays burnt. It’s happened to celebrities, it’s happened to amateur tumblr artists, it’s happened to youtube celebrities, it’s happened to people who didn’t do any fucking thing at all, and it’s going to keep happening until people learn their lesson not to listen to these disingenuous whiners.

Wait

Okay so Black Widow is probably one of the most badass characters ever. And in the first Avengers, we just got to see her being said badass. Not much character development though. AGE OF ULTRON COMES ALONG. You get to find out so much about her like…and the storyline with her and Banner was heartbreaking. Why are people saying that she was reduced to some love interest. If so didn’t the same happen to Banner? Natasha is NOT a simple love interest in this movie. Her actual emotions are being put out there. STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS CAN SHOW EMOTIONS AND FEARS WITHOUT BEING WEAK. So why did yall start going off on Joss Whedon about her character and start claiming that he ain’t done shit for female characters? He clearly has. CLEARLY. Scarlet Witch was beautiful in this movie. A GOD DAMNED GEM. What about Buffy? Maria? Yall need to chill and realize that emotional character development isn’t said character being reduced to “a love interest”.

I’m a little upset about all the Age of Ultron hate that not only the movie is receiving but also Joss Whedon. So many have found something to pick on and tear apart like vultures. Or, you know, just jumped on the bandwagon and broadcasted their insults without offering any real criticism or opinion. I loved the movie. It didn’t make all my ships come true or anything, but I don’t think Natasha’s character was demeaned in any way. A strong female character can want love and a strong female character can face her past and feel she’s a monster. Come on. She’s complicated but understandable, and I love her. As for humor, I’m a fan of running gags. So watch your language and quit attacking Joss Whedon for jokes you didn’t like or imagined slights or misinterpreted lines.

I understand the objections to Whedon’s portrayal of Black Widow and Scarlet Witch in Age of Ultron, and I see lots of good points being made… however, I do think it’s a *little* odd to complain about imperfect representational politics in a superhero movie, a corporate manifestation of an inherently fascist genre which is fundamentally based on reactionary and patriarchal power fantasies ranging from the Nazi-lite to the neo-feudal.  It feels a little like complaining that Triumph of the Will doesn’t have any strong female characters in it.  To be clear: I’m not saying the objections are invalid or trivial, just that they seem to miss the wider point (which is also, partly, a wider *feminist* point) about why we fixate on these sorts of stories.

“Maybe this is is just me, but it’s just an across the board pet peeve when shows directly equate female strength with physical violence. Like somehow “strong female characters” means women in leather jackets swigging from flasks and punching people in the face. It’s my belief you don’t have to act like Popeye the Sailor Man to be strong, male or female. Being vulnerable takes strength, being a leader takes strength, standing up for what’s right instead of what’s safe takes strength.”

- Lily Sparks, OUAT Review

feminists threatening joss whedon, a real life person, over the fact that he wrote a romantic subplot with fictional characters

bcus u know black widow can’t be a STRONG INDUPENDANT WOMYN if she’s in a relationship. No, all women who love and show weaknesses are sexist and emotionless snarky and sassy fighter women are the only way to write “strong” female characters

the marvel fandom is so shitty im

Many modern action movies, including How To Train Your Dragon 2, are visibly trying to make their female characters more than trophies and …

This is a great article and required reading for all writers.  It’s important that you’re not just checking a box for a “strong female character” and then leaving them with nothing to do.  As I’ve said before, if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp, you’re doing it wrong.